7 Injured in NE Petroleum Blast

Tuesday, July 7, 2015 @ 03:07 PM gHale

An explosion and fire at a northeast Nebraska petroleum distribution center in West Point left seven people hurt Wednesday, two of them critically, officials said.

The explosion happened at Sapp Bros. Petroleum in West Point, about 70 miles northwest of Omaha, General Manager Tim Kaup said. He said the company doesn’t yet know what caused the explosion.

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St. Francis Memorial Hospital in West Point said seven people ended up taken to the facility following an incident at Sapp Bros. Petroleum.

Two of the people were in critical condition and later taken to a hospital in Omaha, according to St. Francis Memorial. Five others had minor injuries and ended up treated either in the emergency room or a nearby medical clinic.

Craig Schmaderer, an Omaha resident who works in West Point, told The Associated Press he was several blocks away from Sapp Bros. when the incident happened. “I heard something seven blocks away,” he said. “I felt a little vibration.”

Schmaderer said he drove to the site and saw large flames and black smoke fill the air.

Jennifer McTaggart, an employee at a nearby Dairy Queen, told KTIV television in Sioux City, Iowa, the explosion rattled the business.

“We heard a boom. The windows, the walls, the floors — they all shook,” she said. She then looked out the restaurant’s drive-thru window and could see black smoke coming from the petroleum center.